Table Of Contents
Biological Aspects of Empathy
Purpose Of the Study 2
The Concept of Empathy and Mirror Neuron System 2
Design And Method 3
Conclusion, Recommendations and Limitations 3
Biological Aspects of Empathy
Purpose Of the Study
With the increase in research done on the fields of biological and genetic psychiatry, the progress of psychiatry towards becoming a positive science has gradually gained momentum. Empathy was first defined in psychology theories. With the technological developments, It is proven that this concept has biological reflections. Empathy was first described in Aristotle’s Rhetoric. The definition of the concept has changed over time. Although there are still debates about the current concept of empathy, there is more consensus today. There are many biological studies on empathy today. The biological dimensions of empathy have gained importance thanks to the constantly evolving technological changes and the discovery of mirror neurons. In this article, information about current biological studies on the concept of empathy is investigated. The definition of empathy, empathy-brain relationship, mirror neurons and the relationship between empathy and mirror neuron are examined. Empathy has a psychological as well as a biological dimension. In the study, Mirror Neuron System Pathologies and Loss of Empathy will be explained with examples. It will be also indicated that empathy is affected by the evolutionary process and helps to bring living conditions to a more livable level and this thesis will be supported with examples.
The Concept of Empathy and Mirror Neuron System
Humans as social beings they relate to people. To be successful in these relationships,
people need to understand each other, think like them, feel like them. In other words, it is putting oneself in the other person’s place. By this way, the person can understand the emotion, attitude, thought and life of the person with whom he/she empathizes. Empathy is trying to understand one’s feelings and thoughts. The people with whom we communicate empathically also think that they are valued and cared. They become happier and open to communication with the people around them. However, while empathizing, one should not ignore his own self.
Mirror neurons are cells that receive signals from the outside world through all senses, especially hearing and vision, and store a photocopy of them. These neurons sensitively reflect the role assigned to them in a process such as imitation and learning from the other person and make the person involuntarily imitated. With the discovery of mirror neurons, studies on the biological aspect of empathy have been developed.
This study is planned in four parts. In the first chapter, the concept of empathy is explained. Later, the history of empathy, its first appearance and the changes it has undergone over the years is explained with definitions. Then the biological aspect of empathy and researches about this topic are included. In the second chapter, the discovery of mirror neurons, brain imaging and the relationship between Mirror Neurons are investigated. In the third part of his study, the effect of Empathy and Mirror Neurons is examined. Later, Mirror Neuron System Pathologies and Loss of Empathy are investigated. In the fourth and last part of the study, the importance of empathy in daily life has been explained in detail.
Design And Method
This study focuses on concepts and theories. It has formal review characteristics. The study aims to present a general perspective that explains or defines empathy. By explaining the biological aspects of empathy, the current definition of the concept of empathy has been made. Experimental evidence for this concept is given. Relevant resources have been scanned, and recent studies associated with biological aspects of empathy have been reviewed.
Conclusion, Recommendations and Limitations
The biological implications of empathy in psychiatry are promising. In the light of current researches, empathy is thought to be a motivated process rather than a triggered one. This situation helps us to use empathy to understand the other, to increase our knowledge and it allows the person to gain more flexible human ability. In the light of technological developments it is also proven that empathy is a method that can be used in many areas such as educating antisocial people or training psychotherapists. Without a doubt, with the development of brain imaging techniques today, it will make it easier for us to answer the questions we have difficulty in the following years.
Thesis studies and articles are used in this study. However, mostly conceptual evaluations are emphasized throughout the study. There exist limitations in reaching more empirical conclusions.
Decety, Jean & Lamm, Claus. (2009). The biological basis of empathy. Handbook of Neuroscience for the Behavioral Sciences. 940-957.
Iacoboni, Marco. (2008). Imitation, Empathy, and Mirror Neurons. Annual review of psychology. 60. 653-70. 10.1146/annurev.psych.60.110707.163604.
Lindsey MacGillivray, BSc, 2009, I Feel Your Pain: Mirror Neurons and Empathy, health psychology, https://mdprogram.mcmaster.ca/docs/default-source/MUMJ-Library/v6_16-20.pdf
What is empathetic communication? Physician Wellness Hub, July 29, 2020, https://www.cma.ca/physician-wellness-hub/content/empathy-in-medicine
Kim Armstrong, 2017, ‘I Feel Your Pain’: The Neuroscience of Empathy, Phycological Science, https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/neuroscience-empathy
Table Of Contents